Shelley Special Seals Friendly Win Over Derby
Danny Shelley fired a second half screamer into the top corner to give Crewe a good 2-1 win over Derby in the penultimate home friendly of the summer.
Derby brought a strong side to Gresty Road, with John Brayford in the starting line up and former Alex keeper Adam Legzdins in a familiar blue seat. Dario meanwhile went with his first 11 with only one change in the form of trialist Chris Hogg in place of Adam Dugdale.
As with any friendly, there was no real edge to the game but Derby certainly provided a tougher test than any previous opposition this summer. Steve Phillips produced some stunning saves throughout the match to leave fans baffled as to how he ever spent the entirety of last season watching from the sidelines.
He was helpless however for the Derby goal but there was a familiar theme of defensive mishaps, starting with a overhit back pass by Harry Davis going out for a corner. The corner itself was then not dealt with, firstly by Chris Hogg and then by Dave Artell. Chris Rigott had the easy task of stabbing home from 8 yards.
For Hogg, it summed up his slow start to the game. Although he improved as the game went on he looked a bit short of match fitness; I imagine no decision is likely on his future till after Saturday's friendly against Rochdale.
One of the brightest performances came from Byron Moore, his runs were troubling Derby all night and it was from a determined run down the centre that the 23 year old broke through the defence to fire past Derby keeper Frank Fielding.
In the second half Dario introduced a host of 'fringe' players, with Nick Powell, Ajay Leitch-Smith, George Ray, Caspar Hughes, Antoni Sarcevic and Max Clayton all coming off the bench in place of Luke Murphy, Byron Moore, Shaun Miller, Chris Hogg, Danny Shelley and Lee Bell. Adam Dugdale later replaced David Artell.
It certainly gave the defence one or two more things to think about as Derby took control of the game and there were one or two shaky moments that required Steve Phillips to throw a lifeline. We did however hang on and that, I suppose, is all you can ask for.
At the other end of the pitch, it was pleasing to see a rather sprightly looking Max Clayton back after his time off following the U-17 World Cup. Both him and Powell produced some real classy moments as well as moments of inexperience but there's no doubt both will cause League Two defences more and more problems as the next season wears on.
Whether or not the team itself can be as classy during the season as they've been this summer, only time will tell. We've seen great pre-seasons before and been thoroughly disappointed before.
I still worry our defence is not up to scratch and could fall apart the moment a ball is kicked in real anger (but don't panic!). I'm remaining hopeful Miller stays and stays fit and I'm crossing my fingers that Moore can help out with the goals.
Thankfully I relax on the midfield front, I don't think we have a midfielder who isn't up to the job. From Westy and Murph to Caspar Hughes and Sarcevic, I wouldn't be worried at any of them lining up in two weeks time.